University of Iowa

Rachel Pastan

Rachel Pastan’s most recent novel, Alena, was named an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times Book Review. She is also the author of two other novels, Lady of the Snakes and This Side of Married, which was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. In 2014 she edited Seven Writers, a chapbook of writing inspired by exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, where until recently she served as Editor-at-Large. She received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a member of the Core Faculty in Fiction at the Bennington Writing Seminars M.F.A. program. She also teaches fiction at Swarthmore College. 

Instructor Events

Strong feeling is often what drives us to write. We want our reader to experience the sadness or outrage, the delight or sense of betrayal we feel when thinking about a fictional (or nonfictional) situation. But how do we do that, exactly? How do we tell a story that’s not cold, but that’s not melodramatic either? This workshop will explore a variety of ways to get emotion on the page—through description, in dialogue, via what characters do, and in the way we use language itself.

Weeklong July 15 to July 20 2018

Sometimes a short story can be drafted in a great surge of inspiration, but a novel is a different kind of literary beast. How do we prepare ourselves to keep a story going over several hundred pages? What do we need to know in advance, and what might we hope to discover along the way? In this workshop, we will think about the journeys our characters take over the course of the novel and look at how those journeys drive the narrative action.